The blue riband event of the WPGA schedule has been given a significant makeover for 2016 including an increased prize fund and field size.

The Women’s PGA Professional Championship, the highlight of a season featuring the WPGA One Day Series, enters a new era with a series of changes that will significantly enhance the tournament.

A significantly larger field will be able to compete for the title, rising from eight in previous years, meaning there will be no requirement for a qualifying event as in previous years.

The prize fund has increased to £6,000 – from £5,000, with the winner of the championship receiving £1,000, while players finishing in the top 12 will also secure a share of the prize fund.

It will continue to be a 36-hole championship but another change will see both rounds played in one day.

This year’s event will be held over the Blue Course at Frilford Heath Golf Course (above) in Oxfordshire on Tuesday July 19. Tracy Loveys, of Bigbury Golf Club in Devon, will defend the title, which she has won for a record four times since the tournament was launched in 2003.

Sandy Jones, chief executive of the PGA, said: “In recent years there has been increasing demand to play in this championship, which is a huge positive. It shows there is more interest within the women’s section and illustrates a growth in ladies golf.

“In recognition of that, it was decided that the tournament should become a standalone championship to give it the respect and recognition it deserves.

“More of our female members will get the opportunity to compete in the championship, while the prize money has increased.

“It will be also staged on a different golf course from the PGA Professional Championship for added distinction, and an excellent one in Frilford Heath.

“This move will give the event greater credibility and more meaning to those who play in it and also to the eventual champion.”

The WPGA season tees off on Monday March 7 with the Vivien Saunders WPGA Foursomes Award Tournament over the Blue Course at The Berkshire.

The One Day series will again feature seven events across the country beginning at Little Aston on May 9 and concluding at South Herts on August 10.


Full schedule:

Monday March 7: Vivien Saunders WPGA Foursomes Award Tournament, The Berkshire

Monday May 9: WPGA One Day Series – Event 1, Little Aston, West Midlands

Wednesday May 25: WPGA One Day Series – Event 2, Dunham Forest, Cheshire

Friday June 3: WPGA One Day Series – Event 3, Three Rivers, Essex

Monday June 27: WPGA One Day Series – Event 4, Kedleston Park, Derbyshire

Thursday July 7: WPGA One Day Series – Event 5, Salisbury & South Wilts, Wiltshire

Tuesday July 19: Women’s PGA Professional Championship, Frilford Heath, Oxfordshire

Friday July 22: WPGA One Day Series – Event 6, Chestfield, Kent

Wednesday August 10; WPGA One Day Series – Event 7, South Herts, Hertfordshire


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